Arena: Fantasy Football Draft Dos and Don'ts

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The summer of 2017 may be winding down, but fantasy football is back to ease your pain! It's your chance to show your friends and colleagues that you know are a footkball genius whose every word and opinion is gold. 

Every fall, friends become enemies during their fantasy draft as everyone is looking for an edge over their competition. That's why we've provided you a few tips to give your team that edge.

 

Do: Take flier on Paul Perkins

After the offseason additions of Brandon Marshall and rookie TE Evan Engram, the Giants passing attack has been lauded as one of the most explosive in the NFL. However, to truly be great, the G-Men will need to improve on a rushing attack that ranked 29th in the NFL last season. That onus will largely be on the shoulders of second-year rusher Paul Perkins.

Perkins emerged last year as a steady, versatile player who the Giants feel can be a feature back for them. He showed tantalizing jukes in a 21-carry, 102-yard performance against the Redskins in week 16 last year.

He should hardly ever face a loaded box due to the Giant’s proficient offensive attack and his receiving ability means he could stay on the field for all three downs. He currently has an average draft position (ADP) of 95.8, but I’d advise anyone looking for a solid running back depth to take him in the sixth or seventh round.

 

Don’t: Draft a QB with an early pick

Every time someone in one of my leagues drafts a quarterback in the first or second round, I cannot help but snicker.

Why take Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in the first round when you can get Kirk Cousins or Jameis Winston in the tenth? They may not put up the same ridiculous numbers, but in an increasingly pass-centric league, 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown seasons are becoming routine.

It’s best to take two high-upside passers and hope that one of them pops. Last year I took Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota in the eighth and tenths rounds, respectively, and both ended as top 10 fantasy QBs by the season's end. Meanwhile, a friend of mine drafted Cam Newton in the second round and was hamstrung by it for the entire season.

If an elite QB slips to the fourth or fifth round, then it’s a good idea to snatch him up. Otherwise, drafting two high upside passers late is the best way to ensure your team has depth to withstand the inevitable injuries a few of your players will suffer.

 

 

Do: Draft Travis Kelce over Rob Gronkowski

This one may seem like a shocker given the sheer dominance Gronkowski has displayed over the course of his career, but fantasy football is all about reliability. Gronk is simply too much of an injury risk to be the top tight-end selected. Though he is simply unstoppable at the top of his game, Gronkowski has now had nine surgeries including three on his back.

Meanwhile, Kelce started all sixteen games last season and was the top target in Kansas City playing with a quarterback who loves throwing to tight ends.

Now that Jeremy Maclin is on the Ravens it seems that Kelce will have an even bigger role than last season. Drafting him is almost like drafting another No. 1 receiver who gives consistent production and receives the lion’s share of his teams targets. Kelce is by no means a better player than Gronkowski, but injury history matters when drafting in fantasy.

 

Don’t: Draft Mike Evans in the first round

I am a huge believer in Mike Evans. He is one of my favorite players in the NFL and I was a huge believer that in college, he made Johnny Manziel look much better than he really was. However, you shouldn't draft him in the first round. 

He currently has an ADP of 8.7 and is coming off a breakout season that has NFL pundits recognizing him as one of the sport's best, but the Bucs didn’t have many receiving options last season. Now, they’ve added DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard and the surprisingly impressive Chris Godwin to the mix. This will likely be a huge benefit to the Bucs offense, but Evans' targets should decrease sharply.

He is still one of the league’s best, but he is certainly no longer worthy of a first round pick.

 

 

Do: Bet on a Jamison Crowder breakthrough

The Redskins let DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon walk in free agency, mostly because they are betting on a huge breakout year for Jamison Crowder.

Quietly, Crowder posted 67 catches, 847 yards and seven touchdowns as the Redskins slot receiver and he looks primed to build off of that year.

The Redskins did add Terrelle Pryor to mix at receiver, but Crowder should receive more catches as the beneficiary of experience and familiarity with Kirk Cousins. He’s currently being taken late in the ninth round in standard drafts, but if he’s sitting on your board in the seventh or eighth, betting on a breakthrough season for him is a smart move.

 

 

Don’t: Select a Defense until the second to last round

This one is pretty straightforward, but sometimes one may be tempted to snag the top ranked defense in the eighth or ninth round. Do not. I repeat, DO NOT select a defense until the second to last round. It is simply not worth it.

The difference between the first overall defense and the tenth was only 45 fantasy points over the course of a 10-game season. That is incredibly miniscule when considering you could be using that mid-round pick on some quality (necessary) depth. Draft a defense that forces turnovers and doesn’t give up massive amounts of points and you should be just fine.

Another tactic is the ‘ole defense waiver-wire dive performed a ton last year, where players simply look at the matchup and start whatever defense is playing against the Browns or 49ers.

Remember, the last round of the draft is for kickers, the second to last is for defense.